Searching for....

Monday, January 30, 2017

01292017 4th Sunday After Epiphany - We are to overcome evil with good!

January 29, 2017
We are to overcome evil with good (v. 21)
Since the beginning of this month of January in the sports world we have cried due to tragic loss of young lives of baseball pitchers, watched as teams on the football field thought to be invincible fell to more dominant powers.  In politics we have watched the regime change from one party to another.  And here in our own church we have made some decisions concerning the windows that until last September had adorned our sanctuary.
Each event or decision, whether on the gridiron, a road in a distant land or even here in our sanctuary, potentially either could be interpreted in the wrong way, or be understood as how ‘bad luck’, ‘evil’ or even disagreement enters into our culture and world, even here in the church.  Some would say, that’s not my problem.  Others would have opinions, but only share them with their ‘friends’.  Yet, Paul, the writer of the letter to the Romans this morning suggests a different path we should take.
Paul is writing this letter to a people that are vastly different than the Jews of Jerusalem.  Those who would read and have read to them this letter to the Romans, do not have the history of the Old Testament.  Thus Paul in this letter speaks plainly, emphatically and exclusively of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We today in our Western Context, both of the United States, but also Kansas and far Northwest Kansas think of the Gospel differently than Paul and the Romans.  We have not lived without the Gospel message.  The Romans were only introduced to it, by Paul.
Ironically, Paul came late to the party as the phrase goes.  His conversion was on the road to Emmaus, when Jesus Christ asked him a simple question, “Saul, Saul why do you persecute me?”  You see Saul as he was known then was looked at by the believers of and in Jesus Christ as an evil man.  He not only was persecuting the followers of Jesus Christ, but even was given a license to ‘hunt them down’.  Christians thought Saul was the clear embodiment of evil and didn’t trust him.
Having experienced this mistrust of him from the very beginning, Saul, then named by Paul could not only speak from experience, but reach out to people and like in his own life, ‘overcome evil with good.’  Hence why Paul wrote so prolifically and could clearly point to the clear message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And in pointing to Jesus Christ, Paul could clearly and emphatically say, “We are to overcome evil with good.
Yet, for we who gather here today, why and how does this apply?  Some in our society would ask, does evil exist today?  Some would clearly claim our nations leaders at times are the embodiment of evil.  We look at our government and believe it has become corrupt and isn’t looking out for the little guy and that big business is muscling out the small family farm.  Events in our world, escalate to the point that we don’t see much good or to find good you have to look closely and carefully, because it isn’t the norm.
Interestingly Paul sailed to a world, the Roman world that not only epitomized this same ‘world view’ and belief of the Jews of ‘evil all around’, but Paul chose a different path.  Paul responded not with a hammer of condemnation, but with the Gospel saying, “We are to overcome evil with good!”  Paul’s intent was to inspire and enable the Roman people not to hold to every letter of the law that Jews expected, but to hold up calmly, point to clearly and elevate the Man he met on the road to Emmaus, Jesus Christ.
Paul’s sole intent was for the people to as we heard last week, exercise their muscles of faith and as we have heard today clearly use as their call to action, “We are to overcome evil with good!”  You might ask, ‘how are we to do this?’  Clearly, specifically and without ending, we are to overcome evil with good, by our Love.

When I go to Wheat Ridge and Good Samaritan to lead the Sunday Worship, as I will do in a few weeks, I am thankful to have an accompanist that not only loves music, loves playing, but especially loves the people.  Most times we are there, one of the phrases, I use is the simple four letter word of ‘love’.  And this has become our language with one another when we lead services.  And we like Paul here at Emmanuel, we not only are loved by God, through His Son, Jesus Christ, Who was willing to go to Calvary and die in order that we might live and have eternal life.  We have been empowered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ to love one another as Christ first loved us.  We are enabled by Jesus Christ to hear and heed Paul’s call to action.  For as Christians and disciples of our Lord and Savior, He, Jesus Christ is calling us through the lips of Paul with this call to action.  “We are to overcome evil with good!”  AMEN.

Check out Pastor on the Prairie (ProtP)
Subscribe to ProtP

//trial script